There is not one aspect of my life or business that I couldn't do better, be it in quality, output, or efficiency. I often see producers who are uncomfortable with the notion that they could do better on sustainability issues.
Managing land productively is a huge challenge, battling against weeds, pests, weather, cyclical markets and changing regulations. We cannot be threatened by the notion of doing better, because it is the doing that matters.
We are being challenged by the global business push to 'be seen to' engage in environment, sustainability and governance issues. It is manifesting as superficial regulations and finance mandates to fulfil investment criteria that are ESG focused - ESG lip service.
Sadly not a single regulation or mandate appears to care enough to understand the full scope and challenge of the issue. Each good intention risks a bad outcome.
Even more popular is the ignorant notion that you can solve ESG by depriving certain perceived risk activities of capital. No one defined the right approach better than Marcus Aurelius who said: the obstacle is the way.
Some finance mandates put a spotlight on live export for animal welfare concerns, restricting access for capital of live export businesses based on ESG. Yet no single entity would have done more for global animal welfare standards than the Australian live export industry.
Proposed canopy cover-driven deforestation mandates will lead to woody thickening, increased weeds and pests threatening biodiversity, risks of catastrophic fire and further extinction.
Beef production is at the centre of ESG, with an opportunity to deliver the greatest benefits. We can do this more efficiently and productively by measuring and managing our efforts.
Jason Wells, the chief sustainability officer at JBS challenged the audience at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to "make the cow an indicator species of a healthy environment".
This is the goal. Don't be threatened by it and most importantly, be proud of what you are already doing but even prouder that you can do better.
As my last View From the Paddock I wanted to thank the readers of the Queensland Country Life for their attention.
Writing these views has helped clarify and order my own thoughts. Thank you QCL for the opportunity.
- Mark Davie, CQ cattleman and food manufacturer
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